NIGERIA – Corn output for the 2017-18 season will probably decline by as much as 750,000 metric tonnes due to the impact of pests and increased imports, according to the Maize Association of Nigeria.

Bloomberg sources quoted the President, Maize Association of Nigeria, Tunji Adenola, as saying that Nigeria was estimated to produce 10 million tonnes of corn in the current season, seven  per cent less than 10.75 million tonnes in the 2016-17 season.

“Apart from import which is the major challenge to corn production in Nigeria, the two-year-old armyworm attacks ravaging farms have discouraged farmers from producing,” Adenola  said, adding that  those unable to compete with imported corn, which was cheaper, were  being compelled to switch to other crops.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest corn producer after South Africa, whose 2017-18 output is estimated at 12 million tonnes, according to the United States  Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The grain is grown all over the country from the semi-arid north to the rain forests of the south.

Most of Nigeria’s corn is consumed locally as a staple or used in feed for livestock and raw material in the food industry.

The West African nation saw corn imports jump 33 per cent in the 2016-17 season to reach 400,000 tonnes, the USDA figures show.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s government aims to boost farming output and reduce the economy’s dependence on oil, which contributes two-thirds of the government revenue in Nigeria with its population of more than 180 million people.